Asylum from Russia for an Ethnic Korean

I.S. Law Firm recently secured a grant of asylum through asylum office for an ethnic Korean woman who was persecuted in Russia because of her ethnicity.

Client was represented by attorney Ismail Shahtakhtinski, who demonstrated to the satisfaction of the interviewing asylum officer that our client and members of her family had been repeatedly attacked, harassed, intimidated and threatened by belligerent nationalists in Russia, and received no protection from the police. To support our client’s statements and subjective evidence, we used objective evidence, including U.S. Department of State reports on human rights, as well as numerous country reports such as news articles.

Our client was born in Uzbekistan when it was part of the Soviet Union. Our client’s family had settled in Uzbekistan as a result of mass transfer of Koreans to Uzbekistan from the Russian Far East, executed by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s. The challenge in this case was to show that, although our client was an Uzbek citizen by birth, she could not live safely in Uzbekistan because she had also been persecuted there on account of her ethnicity, and because she had renounced her Uzbek citizenship after moving to Russia.

We demonstrated that Russia had proven to be even more hostile to our client and her family than Uzbekistan. Our client and members of her family suffered persecution, harassment, maltreatment, intimidation, attacks, verbal and physical abuse in Russia because of their ethnicity. Our client had been beaten, and her children and husband have been repeatedly beaten, detained, and deprived of their property, only because they are representatives of an ethnic minority. Members of a skinhead gang have specifically threatened to kill our client and her family if they do not leave the country, forcing them to abandon their lawful residence and move in with relatives. Our client and her family have found no protection from the Russian police; in fact, the police had openly refused to investigate the most recent attack on our client.

By submitting objective evidence, we also showed that the Russian government has generally been unwilling to change its policies toward ethnic minorities, as ultra-nationalist mentality has been gaining more and more supporters among the broad Russian population. We presented multiple reports and news articles to prove that ethnic hatred toward minorities, specifically those of Asian appearance, is widespread in Russia. The 2011 State Department Human Rights Report on Russia states: “The law prohibits discrimination based on nationality. However, government officials at times subjected minorities to discrimination. There was a steady rise in societal violence and discrimination against minorities, particularly Roma, persons from the Caucasus and Central Asia, dark-skinned persons, and foreigners. The number of reported hate crimes increased during the year, and skinhead groups and other extreme nationalist organizations fomented racially motivated violence. Racist propaganda remained a problem, although courts continued to convict individuals of using propaganda to incite ethnic hatred.”

Many of hate crimes in Russia are committed against Asian minorities, including ethnic Koreans. In February of 2010, a South Korean student died after being attacked by Russian men in the Siberian city of Barnaul. Just three weeks later, in March of 2010, another Korean student was stabbed by a Russian in Moscow. The attacks prompted the Foreign Ministry of South Korea to issue a safety precaution for Korean residents and travelers in Russia. In 2006, three citizens of North Korea were brutally beaten in Vladivostok by five Russian nationalists; as a result, two of the Koreans died and one was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

Ethnic Koreans, whether citizens of Russia or not, are routinely attacked in Russia. In 2003, an ethnic Korean born in Uzbekistan was severely beaten and killed on a late-night commuter train in the Moscow region by a group of drunken ethnic Russians. In 2008, a skinhead gang attacked and severely beat a Russian citizen of Korean descent on a train in the Moscow region. In 2010, a riot police officer deliberately ran over Korean crown with his car in Stavropol, killing one ethnic Korean and injuring others, illustrating that police in Russia not only fail to protect ethnic minorities from attacks and harassment, but often engage in xenophobic behavior themselves. By presenting evidence of persecution of ethnic Koreans in Russia, in addition to documenting our client’s personal story, we were able to obtain asylum approval for our client.

In order to be granted asylum, the applicant must prove that he/she qualifies as a refugee. According to the official definition, a refugee is a person who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country; or who not having a nationality and being outside the country of his/her former habitual residence…., is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it”.

If you consider applying for asylum, it is crucial to thoroughly prepare and do everything possible to secure approval at the asylum office stage. If you are denied by asylum office and your case goes to immigration court, the process will take years, you may be unable to work legally while your case is pending, and your otherwise eligible children abroad may “age out” of their eligibility to claim derivative asylum even if you are eventually approved. For more information, see our website.

To obtain approval of our clients’ asylum petitions, attorneys at I.S. Law Firm gather subjective and objective evidence, country reports, complete the forms, write memorandums, thoroughly prepare our clients for the questioning, and stand by our client’s side, supporting him or her throughout the entire process. We are proud of our approximately 95% success rate in affirmative asylum claims. “Affirmative” asylum case refers to a petition filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), normally within one year of the applicant’s arrival to the United States. By contrast, “defensive” asylum cases are administered through immigration courts after a person files for asylum to avoid deportation.


If you think you may qualify for asylum, please contact us at +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].

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